MetLife appeals 'systemically significant' designation

The insurance company MetLife Financial is appealing a decision by regulators to subject it to stricter oversight as a key figure in the financial system.

The life insurer announced Friday that it had formally requested a written and oral hearing to contest a recent decision by financial regulators to designate the company as “systemically significant.”

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In September, the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) made a preliminary decision that MetLife should be designated as significant, which would subject the company to stricter oversight by the Federal Reserve and tighter restrictions on its activity under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

At the time, MetLife said it would appeal the decision, and some lawmakers in both parties were critical of the decision. The life insurance industry also criticized the move, saying it was misguided for financial regulators to apply that designation standard to MetLife.

Under Dodd-Frank rules, MetLife has the opportunity to appeal FSOC’s decision to FSOC itself. A hearing will occur within 30 days of MetLife’s request, and a final decision will be rendered at most 60 days after that.

If the FSOC’s determination holds, MetLife would join Prudential Financial and American International Group as insurance companies deemed systemically significant. Several major Wall Street firms, along with the financing arm of General Electric, have also received designations.